On April 6, 2017 Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality announced that both proposed Virginia pipelines, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, would be subject to Department of Environment Quality water-quality review, which meant that DEQ would require water quality certifications under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act for each segment of both projects that crosses or potentially affects water bodies.
But the next day, on April 7, 2017, DEQ provided water quality certification for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2017 Nationwide Permits, thus issuing a blanket Clean Water Act section 401 certification for pipelines that are covered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide Permit number 12.
Will DEQ still require individual certifications for the ACP and MVP? Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition’s Rick Webb says, “We think DEQ still intends to conduct individual review of the ACP and MVP.” But DEQ has certainly muddied the waters with their seemingly contradictory news releases.
See the two press releases from DEQ here.
See the DPMC post about DEQ’s actions and DPMC’s FOIA request to DEQ here.
On April 6, 2017, Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality announced that both proposed Virginia pipelines, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, will be subject to Department of Environment Quality water-quality review. This means that DEQ will require water quality certifications under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act for each segment of both projects that crosses or potentially affects water bodies.
As Mike Tidwell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said, “Rest assured that, without the growing public movement to stop these pipelines over the past 2.5 years, this basic concession from the Governor and DEQ would not have happened. Many thanks to everyone who’s worked to bring environmental justice to these massive and misguided pipeline proposals.”
The full press release from DEQ states:
In keeping with Governor McAuliffe’s commitment that the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines will be constructed in the most environmentally protective manner, the Department of Environmental Quality has notified ACP and MVP that in addition to utilizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nationwide permit 12 for wetland and stream crossings, DEQ will be requiring individual 401 water quality certifications for each project.
These certifications will ensure that Virginia water quality standards are maintained in all areas affected by the projects. The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on these certifications and the conditions required to protect water quality. DEQ also will hold public hearings on the draft certifications. Once the comment period has concluded the proposed final certifications will be brought before the State Water Control Board.
Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch news coverage of this significant announcement here.
The Recorder, the weekly newspaper for Highland and Bath counties, provides continually excellent coverage of many issues associated with the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Note: Access to full text of articles is by subscription only.
The April 6, 2017, issue includes these articles:
- Citizens group demands withdrawal of pipeline statement — “A citizens group has filed a motion to rescind and revise the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission posted Monday, Friends of the Central Shenandoah states the draft EIS either needs to be withdrawn and revised or supplemented to meet the letter of the law.”
- Stop the Pipeline’ campaign under way — “The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and chapters will take to the highways and byways of North Carolina and Virginia for eight days in April on a barnstorming tour of communities threatened by natural gas pipelines.
- Things are getting real around here – “Highland County supervisors deserved a meeting much sooner. Dominion Resources, which plans to construct an interstate gas pipeline through part of southern Highland, came before the county board last week — three months after a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project was issued in late December. Finally, they were given an audience with Dominion officials to ask some questions they’ve posed before, and more specific questions that have not been addressed until now. Of course, the answers were not satisfactory, the way we see it.” The article goes on to discuss in detail the many negatives of the proposed pipeline (and Dominion’s less than helpful answers), including how it goes counter to the county’s comprehensive plan in many aspects, how movement of workers to the proposed construction site would be “equivalent to a third of our entire residents traveling one of only two main arteries into this county, for 10 hours a day, six days a week, for about two years,” Dominion’s lack of specific answers on source of the millions of gallons of water needed for testing. And many more issues.
The Virginia Cooperative Extension will be offering their Household Water Quality Program in Nelson County in April. The service provides affordable water testing, help interpreting water test results, and information about addressing problems. Cost: $55 per sample kit, checks and cash accepted (make checks payable to Nelson County VCE).
The schedule is:
- Pick up kit – April 13, 2017
5:30-6:30 pm Rockfish Valley Community Center, Afton
7:00-8:00 pm The Nelson Center, Lovingston
- Drop off samples – April 19, 2017
7:00-9:00 am at both Rockfish Valley Community Center and The Nelson Center
- Results Meeting – May 24, 2017
7:00 pm, The Nelson Center
Participating in the program is a good way to have a baseline on your water quality should you need it in the future.
See the brochure from Virginia Cooperative Extension for further information.
The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) has filed an eight-page objection to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ’s) Water Quality Certification proposal that would allow all utility projects in Virginia to be regulated under a generalized Nationwide 12 permit. The DPMC argues that the issuance of the proposed Water Quality Certification would be illegal, because the DEQ has not conducted the required analysis of the impacts on water quality standards; furthermore, the generalized conditions under the Nationwide permit cannot possibly protect the great variety of waters that would be affected across the state by utility projects, nor can they account for the large variation in project conditions encountered by the many different utility line projects (ranging from small to very large) that would be covered under the general permit.
Bold Alliance has created an online petition by which you can add your name to the DPMC’s objection to the DEQ’s Water Quality Certification proposal. The petition is an easy way for you to voice your concern for the protection of Virginia’s streams and wetlands during construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and other utility projects across the state.
The Virginia DEQ is currently accepting comments on the proposed Water Quality Certification, but the deadline is this Friday, March 17th! Be sure to sign Bold Alliance’s online petition by this Friday. You can also submit comments to the DEQ regarding the Water Quality Certification by email: Comments should be submitted to Steven.Hardwick@deq.virginia.gov. Again, the deadline for comments is this Friday, March 17, 2017 by 11:59 pm.
To learn more about the proposed Water Quality Certification, read our earlier post here at Friends of Nelson or read the DPMC’s detailed post about this issue, “Permission to Pollute.”
The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) reports this week that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is considering a proposal to issue a Water Quality Certification (WQC) that would allow parties to build utility lines, including large gas pipelines, through streams and wetlands across Virginia with only the limited, generalized requirements for waterbody crossings that are stipulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide permit (NWP 12). According to the DPMC, such generalized conditions under the Nationwide permit cannot possibly protect the great variety of waters that would be affected across the state by utility projects, nor can they account for the large variation in project conditions encountered by the many different utility line projects (ranging from small to very large) that would be covered under the general permit.
Despite the fact that the DEQ is charged with ensuring that all Virginia water quality standards are met for such utility projects, the DPMC reports that the DEQ has performed no analysis to look at the impacts of NWP 12 activities on water quality standards. The DPMC requested all supporting documentation for the DEQ’s proposed regulatory action and received only five documents that show that no analysis of impacts was even attempted, let alone completed.
The DEQ has suggested that it may attempt to cover the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline under this generalized WQC if the Corps of Engineers deems them eligible for coverage under NWP 12. The DPMC asserts that such an action would be illegal and argues that this proposal cannot be justified on legal or scientific grounds even for the many smaller utility projects that the WQC would cover.
The Virginia DEQ is currently accepting comments on the proposed Water Quality Certification, so you have an opportunity to make your voice heard on this issue. Contact the DEQ and tell them to reject the Water Quality Certification of the Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide 12 Permit. Comments should be submitted to Steven.Hardwick@deq.virginia.gov. The deadline for comments is this Friday, March 17, 2017 by 11:59 pm.
To read the DPMC’s full statement on its position regarding the DEQ’s consideration of the proposal to issue a Water Quality Certification that would allow parties to build utility lines through Virginia’s waterbodies under a generalized Nationwide 12 permit, click here.